Archive | Flowers and Plants

Annual, perennial and interesting flowers with advice on culture, information, tips and recommended varieties

Growing My Vegetables in Containers

Potato sacks

You can grow fresh relatively clean vegetables in containers. This is useful for gardeners with restricted space or where you want vegetables close to the kitchen door.

Selecting Containers

  • Growbags get there name for a good reason. They are the first container to consider for vegetables.
  • Old large plant pots are fine as long as you clean them thoroughly. Disinfect with jeyes fluid in necessary.
  • Your own selection of containers, troughs, window boxes, even old drain pipes may be brought into service.
  • Depth for most crops should be at least 1 foot to avoid watering problems.
  • I use an old dustbin to grow ‘large long’ vegetables – it doesn’t always work but they do attract attention.

Compost or Soil

  • To get good results we recommend using sterilised potting media
  • John Innes No 3 holds nutrient, water and has some weight and body.
  • Proprietary potting compost are equally of use.
  • Good quality loam or garden soil will be fine but may lack nutrient, harbour insects and disease.
  • Mix in 20% of well rotted manure if you wish to grow organically.

Crop Selection

  • Sow Broad Beans from February 6-8″ apart.
  • Round carrots like Nantes and Amsterdam sown from February to June. The pots height can stop or deter carrot root fly.
  • Herbs and salad crops do well in containers. Small lettuce can be sown successively from January
  • Potatoes are my favourite as they come out clean and problem free. You can grow lots of varieties this way. One tuber for every foot of container diameter.
  • Peas with edible pods can be sown from March as can beetroot.

I start a few seed potatoes as soon as they arrive, end January/February. They are just starting to flower so I can pick some fresh tubers anytime from now on. They were in a double container if you count the greenhouse and vertical grow  bag.
I cover with fleece in very cold weather and happily move the pots for protection of the really early spuds. If the crop fails I have only lost a bit of effort and I can get on with full quantities in March.

Early Salad Varieties of Potato

Aim for a waxy texture with your salad potatoes and you will probably get some of the best flavoured spuds you have had in a Salad. Waxy potatoes remain intact after cooking and do not go into the water. Waxy potatoes tend to be Early to crop 75 -95 days. Waxy potatoes lend themselves to growing in large pots, barrels or containers.

Charlotte is resistant to blight and has a good cooked waxy texture. Continue Reading →

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Flowering Cherry Trees in Parkland

Cherry blossom time strikes again in this public park. The colour is saturated until the rain comes and the ground is then saturated by fallen petals.

Cherry Picking Some Points of Note

  • I was taken with the grouping of these trees that were planted close together many years ago. The combined fluorescence is amplified in this park land setting. Still we can consider groups of various plants in our own gardens to good effect.
  • The probable shape of trees in bloom should be considered when planting along with the likely spread and height. This triangular canopy of flowering cherry’s could be thought of as a flattened cone.
  • For more growing shapes of flowering cherry trees read GTips
  • Varieties of flowering cherry trees can be found to suit most gardens but the expanse of green grass in these photographs adds contrast.

Continue Reading →

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Larch a Conifer for Bonsai or Forests

There are two common species of larch Larix kaempferi (aka leptolepis  the Japanese Larch) and European Larch Larix decidua. As the name implies the Larch looses their tufted leaves in autumn. They grow in most conditions but do not like wet or chalky soil

European larch is a large tree up to 100 feet tall.  It is conical in shape when young. It has a tendency to  lose its lower branches.  The drooping branches display a greyish colour. The European larch has longer needles than other Larches.

The Japanese larch has shoots of reddish brown. It has a rosette of neat shorter needles. It is a very hardy species grown in forests for timber.

Other Larch species include Siberian larch Larix sibirica and the  Russian larch,  Larix potaninii is a species  found in China and Nepal. Larix principis-rupprechtii, the Prince Rupprecht’s larch is also from china

Read our Root and Branch review of the Common Larch

Bonsai with Larch

  • The larch is a popular outdoor Bonsai species. Particularly the Japanese Larch Larix kaempferi.
  • The trunks grow thickly and relatively quickly. Uncharacteristic shapes can be pruned in.
  • The trees displays seasonal colours bright green in spring then  foliage darkens during summer and turns  golden yellow before falling in autumn.
  • Do not be concerned if some exposed roots peek out from the soil.
  • More information from south devon bonsai society.
  • Foliage darkens during summer and in autumn turns bright gold.

Continue Reading →

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Green and Red Compliment your Spring Garden

peonie

The two best complimentary colours are Red and Green.  There are many ways this is demonstrated in the spring garden and they will be sure to draw compliments. The Peonies are just opening under a bit of shelter and shade.

rg-no-b

The early Rhododendrons escaped frost damage and the red flower is set off by the texture and green of the healthy leaves.

This flowering Quince gave strong colour before many leaves had opened light green but the surrounding grass had been trimed with neat lines in the lawn and the effect was stunning.

quince

See also Colourful Tips for other complementary colour combinations.

colour-contrast

These lime green leaves are complementary to the Azaleas bright vermilion.

Some of the best art work by Georgia O’Keeffe is her paintings of Red Poppies. I recommend you try growing Oriental Red Poppies the for your Red – Green garden.

See also Colourful Tips for other complementary colour combinations.

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My Spring Actions

2019 was off to a great start in Yorkshire; weather-wise at least.

Never knowing how many more springs I will be gardening I resolved to try the new and not to repeat the same mistakes as previous years. Surprisingly this philosophy has delivered several new tips that may be worth sharing.

New Spring Tips

  • Why have I never watered my dry compost before seed sowing. I use commercial compost for starting dahlias and summer bulbs into growth in frost free conditions. This year they have gone into predampened compost and the results are encouraging.
  • The daffodils have been great and I am photographing the garden in sections to see where they excel and where I can add new bulbs for next year.
  • Members of the primula family are also benefiting from the good damp ground that has followed a virtually snow free winter.
  • I can’t compete with the price of a bunch of daffodils from the supermarket so I am not trying. The space is too precious. However gardeners can compete on variety and specials and I have them in a dozen deep plant pots .
  • On miniature varieties of daffodils gardeners can compete handsomely as prolific results and good naturalisation seem to be easy. That is where I am setting my stall out.

Trying the New

  • I chop and change my selection of plants to grow each year. It means I get to select and buy new items that take my fancy. I do try to be loyal to a species for a couple of seasons but I think my auricula love affair is waning.
  • I have already dropped my membership of the Cactus Society and just composted the last specimens.
  • This year I am majoring on cyclamen which may take some years to reach excellence level. So to compliment that I have opted to try some indoor and outdoor Gloxinia.
  • I have returned to seaweed extract and just tried to perk up the lawn with a special watering. I will see how that goes.
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Getting Good Results from Japanese Maples

Japanese maple or Acer palmatum are popular trees and small shrubs. They are grown for an attractive habit and dramatic foliage. The purple, crimson or creamy green leaves change to russet or scarlet in autumn. These leaves can scorch and dry and turn brittle when water is lost from the leaves by frost, wind, hot sun or salty air but they are worth the effort of giving them ideal conditions.

Ideal Growing Conditions

  1. Cool dappled shade is preferable to open, windy locations.
  2. Red leaved varieties need some sun to intensify their colour
  3. Plant Japanese maples in slightly acidic well drained soil that doesn’t dry out in summer nor become water logged in winter.
  4. The shallow roots benefit from an organic mulch.

Growing In a Pot

  1. Some smaller varieties adapt well to growing in a pot that has good drainage and aeration.
  2. Crock the pot and fill with loam based compost and mulch the top to avoid water loss.
  3. Water every day especially during hot weather.
  4. Repot in spring every 3 or 4 years before they restart in growth.
  5. Protect roots in the pot from very cold, wet weather.
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Orchid Shows

 

Winter and early spring is often a good time for Orchid shows in the UK. We have already missed half a dozen shows in January.

 Feb  6     Hinckley & District Orchid Society A.G.M and Quiz
Barwell Constitutional club
7-300pm – 10-00     Contact: keith bates 01455444177 keithbates185@hotmail.com
Trade Attending :-
     Feb  9     The North of England Orchid Society Monthly Show and AGM
Barton Village Hall, the A6 north of Preston
10.30am – 3.30pm     Contact: George Barnes 01942 810958 or via website form http://orchid.org.uk/email.htm
Trade Attending :- Phoenix Orchids, John Keeling
     Feb  20     Royal Horticultural Society RHS Orchid Committee
Council Room, Vincent Square
1130 –      Contact: Jill Otway jillotway@rhs.org.uk
Trade Attending :-
     Feb  23     The South West Orchid Society  Annual Orchid Show
West Monkton Village Hall, nr Taunton TA2 8NE
10.30am – 4pm     Contact: Marian Saunders 01278455170 msaunders1@mail105.co.uk
Trade Attending :-
     Feb  24     East Midlands Orchid Society displaying at the Harrogate OS Annual Show
Pavilions of Harrogate, Great Yorkshire Showground, HG2 8NZ
10:00 – 16:00     Contact: Melv. Stephen 01159 198124 melv_and_hil@hotmail.com
Trade Attending :-
     Feb  24     Harrogate Orchid Society Annual Show
The Pavilions Harrogate Showground Wetherby Road Harrogate HG2 8NZ
10.30am – 4.00pm     Contact: Ivor Pawson 01909 477832 ivor.pawson@sky.com
Trade Attending :-

However here are some as listed by the British Orchid Council to tempt you in February. I will be going as a spectator to the Harrogate show and potential some others. The trade usually attend to show their products and will offer advice to the novice. For other pending shows see orchid.org

 

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Chill Out Music in Your Garden

You may want a tranquil peaceful garden but sometimes you need some supplementary relaxation. After your toils to achieve a neat restful space you can reward yourself with some gentle music. The National Trust recognise this and have launched a CD collection of ‘Music for Tired Gardeners’.

Relax after a hard days gardening to the music of Vaughn Williams’ Greensleeves, or if the weather in inclement Chopin’s Raindrop prelude may refresh you. Other composers on the CD include Tchaikovsky, Delius, Debussy, Schumann and Eric Coates etc. You may not be  ‘In a Monastery Garden’ but the Delius operatic composition ‘The Walk to the Paradise Garden’ will be some compensation.

Walking around your garden you can sign the old traditional song ‘How many kinds of sweet flowers grow In an English country garden?
How many kinds of sweet flowers grow
In an English country garden?
We’ll tell you now of some that we know
Those we miss you’ll surely pardon
Daffodils, heart’s ease and phlox
Meadowsweet and lady smocks
Gentian, lupine and tall hollyhocks
Roses, foxgloves, snowdrops, blue forget-me-nots
In an English country garden

Like me you may not remember the next two verses about ‘How many insects come here and go In an English country garden?’ and ‘How many songbirds fly to and fro In an English country garden?’

Happy listening and Happier gardening

 

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New Gardeners Do Not Need A Garden

It is possible to enjoy gardening without having a traditional garden. Budding new gardeners can get a lot of pleasure and experience from a simple approach to plants and growing.

  1. Children can learn from growing mustard and cress from a packet of seeds in the kitchen. Put some cotton wool in half a clean eggshell dampen and sow some seeds. Better still may be a saucer with a damp face cloth.  A bean or pea seed in a jam jar wedged against the glass with some blotting paper will grow a root and a shoot to demonstrate the wonders of nature.
  2. Pot plants are often an introduction to gardening. Indoor they need light and water but most can survive at least 6 months without feeding. Green leaved plants may be easier to keep alive than flowering plants which in my experience need more care and attention.
  3. Without a traditional garden you can use grow bags on a balcony or path. I fill some bags and containers with bulbs or young, ready grown plants.
  4. Windowsill in my house are chock-a-block with plants from herbs and salad to exotic orchids. Even new gardeners can give some of these a go.
  5. If all else fails new gardeners can visit parks & gardens, garden centers and even look around the hedgerows and neighborhoods to get gardening knowledge and experience.


Cyclamen in a Pot on the Drive

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Tree Books – More than Three Books

2018 has been a remarkable year for tree books and the publishing trade has done a good job listing new and older titles. There is now a forest of books to acquire and collect and I hope they have been printed on paper from sustainable sources.

Book Cover

A ubiquitous book that has been a star seller on the shelves this year. The bright cover and eclectic mix of poems has hopefully started many saplings on a journey with trees.
Book CoverA compendium of National Trust History & Heritage. We can take pride in our tree history.

Book CoverFascinating facts that are hard to comprehend until you study what is going on with trees in groups. A clever update of another edition, a sort of sucker from the parent tree.

Book CoverWe are not alone in venerating trees and if you want an excuse to travel the world then this book will provide some inspiration. Continue Reading →

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